Hello! Thanks so much to anyone who has taken the time to read the last chapter! And thank you sooo much to the person who is now following the story! :) Really appreciate it!
Hope you enjoy this chapter! It's fun. Please let me know what you think of it via reviews! Legit, would love to hear what you think about the characters, especially Isaac. Once again, first original work so I'm kind of flailing around not knowing what I'm doing. And feedback is welcomed! :)
Have a wonderful day! Hope you guys aren't dying from final projects and exams like I am. :)
Dark Centre of the Universe – Modest Mouse
"Oh, you did not just send away a customer."
Kathleen was leaning against the counter with crossed arms and a stern look on her face. Fuck, she was listening the whole time, Alice thought, smacking her forehead with her palm.
"No, you don't understand. That was – "
"I don't care if that was Hitler, you do not send customers away."
"But that was Isaa – "
"Go home, Alice," said Kathleen with nothing but disappointment dripping from her voice.
"You just said you would work on upselling then you kick out some fancy ass businessman?" Her finger was waving in Alice's face. "Finish up your side duties then go home."
Alice groaned. God damn Isaac Hanes. Maybe her brother was right; maybe God did place Isaac on this earth to ruin their lives. As she pulled out a cutting board to begin cutting limes she reminisced about her worst memory from high school.
She was your typical awkward gangly teenager sitting in biology next to her best friend, Emily. Leaning over, she whispered, "I'm sooo nervous about this presentation."
Emily rolled her eyes. Her dyed pink and black hair fell into her blue eyes which were barely visible through the thick layers of black eyeliner she painted on every morning. Reaching into her oversized hoodie which read "My Bloody Valentine", she grabbed a chocolate bar and handed her a piece. "Here, chocolate will make you feel better."
A quiet giggle escaped her lips and she accepted the chocolate. Despite Emily constantly complaining about being overweight, she always seemed to have chocolate on her. "Thanks, but I don't think it's gonna help."
"You're the token nerd, Alice," she said, quickly finishing the rest of the chocolate. "You're not going to fail. It would go against the status quote."
"You mean the status quo, right?"
"Yeah, that's the one," she said, adjusting one of her spiked wristbands. "Our cruel society would crumble if people didn't fall into our little perfectly labeled niches. I blame the government."
Alice narrowed her eyes. "You're fifteen. You barely know what the government does."
"I know enough to know it's corrupt."
"Alice Black?" called their bored sounding teacher. "You're up."
Alice gulped and nervously walked to the front of the classroom with wobbly knees. She loathed public speaking. Even if she was smart, it didn't make up for her social anxiety. Her eyes quickly scanned the classroom; all the students were slumped over their desks with drooping eyes, clearly not paying attention to the presentations. All but one person.
Isaac had his hands clasped behind his head and snapped a piece of gum loudly with his mouth as he watched her with a cheeky grin. Leaning over to his friend Blaise, he whispered loudly, "I hear their family is so poor they're only allowed one shower a week."
A quiet hum of laughter came from all the students. It was obvious he said it loud enough so everyone could hear. Blood ran to her face making her skin crimson but she refused to let it get to her. She needed this presentation to go well, she only got an A- on her last exam; if she didn't get an A+ on this presentation she would lose her 4.0 GPA. Swallowing hard she began the presentation, trying to direct the attention of the class to the PowerPoint slides, not her false lack of personal hygiene.
"The dopaminergic neurons of greatest interest to neuropsychopharmacologists are found near the base of the midbrain in the substantia nigra and – "
Isaac wasn't finished yet. Once again he leaned over to Blaise's ear, barely trying to whisper, "I bet you their whole family is ginger because they're all incest."
"Shut up, mate," Blaise said in his British accent that all the girls fawned over. His nose was pressed against his paper, scribbling down notes. "I'm trying to pay attention, this is cool."
"Would be cooler if someone half decent was talking…"
Turning her back to the class, she choked back tears. Why did he always have to do this to her? They had been in the same school since Kindergarten and it seemed like the moment they met his goal in life was to make her life hell. Couldn't he just give her a break for one day? With a shaky voice, she continued the presentation, "Umm…the neurons in the substantia nigra send their axons to the striatum, thus – "
"I bet she's gonna die alone," he said, interrupting her once again. "Hundred dollars says the sequel for 'The 40 Year Old Virgin' is about her."
A scoff escaped her mouth and she turned to the teacher hoping he was aware of the bullying taking place in his classroom. But no, he seemed perfectly absorbed in his Microsoft solitaire game. She looked at Emily who gave her an uncertain shrug, mentally telling her she didn't know how to deal with the situation. Scowling, her eyes fell back to Isaac. Hands still behind his head, he did the most pompous thing he could do. He winked at her.
Biting the insides of her cheek, she returned to her presentation. "This pathway plays an important role in the control of movemen – "
Isaac faked a loud sneeze to disguise the very obvious "Fat ginger" from his voice.
She gasped loudly and stomped her foot to the ground, shouting, "I'm not fat!" Quickly, she glanced down at her thin frame, as if ensuring that she hadn't suddenly gained fifty pounds.
"That's nice," Isaac shrugged, faking a confused expression. "No one said you were."
"Miss Black," her teacher said, finally taking his focus away from the solitaire game, "Detention for the rest of the week for disrupting the class."
"What?" Tears were now swelling in her eyes and she gaped at the teacher. "B-but Isaac started it…"
"Is that true Isaac?"
"No, sir." Isaac folded his hands innocently on the desk. "I don't know what she's talking about."
"Detention it is, then," the teacher said.
So much for zero tolerance for bullying. As the tears began freely flowing from her eyes, she knew she had to get out of the classroom. Without excusing herself, she stormed away. But of course, not before Isaac could get one last jab at her. As she tried to quickly breeze past him he subtly stuck out his foot, catching her ankle, causing her to fall flat on her face. The whole class erupted in laughter.
With the wind completely knocked out of her, she craned her neck to meet Isaac's eyes with her tear soaked face. All he did was smirk and give a small, "Oops", before returning to his innocent smile.
The knife slipped and she cut the side of her finger, snapping her out of the nightmare. Lime juice oozed into the wound making her wince even more in pain from the burning sensation. Deciding she had cut enough fruit for Kathleen, she cleaned up and clocked out. A whopping three-hour shift and seven dollars in tips. What a baller.
As she put on her coat she fantasized over the bubble bath she would have at home. She wanted nothing more than a glass of cheap wine, bubble bath, ice cream, and to put this horrid day behind her. Tomorrow would be a fresh start.
The smell of the city engulfed her nose as she walked out the door. Autumn leaves and exhaust from vehicles: two of her favorite smells. She craned her neck up to the sky, marveling at the majestic sky-scrapers looming over her. God, she loved the city. There was nothing more beautiful than the city skyline at night. But what she loved even more about urban life was the ability to be as anonymous as she wanted. So long as she avoided his side of the city, she would never have to see Isaac Hanes again.
Or so she thought.
"…Greg, don't send that shipment to Toronto. There was a bad batch of Strattera, we'll get sued."
The familiar voice came from the alley on the side of the restaurant. There was no way it was him. It couldn't be. It's been over an hour. There was no logical reason why he would be there.
But apparently, logic was nonexistent today.
Her mouth fell open as her eyes rested on Isaac sitting on an upside-down milk crate. He looked quite comical, actually, being at least six feet tall in his swanky suit, slumped on the crate talking about being sued in a dark alley. But she was in no mood to laugh.
"Are you stalking me?" she blurted out.
His neck snapped towards her and he smiled, putting up his index finger motioning her to wait a second. "Hey, Greg, let me call you back, okay? No – don't send it. Ugh, give me an hour. I'll call you." He ended the call and smiled even wider at Alice. "Hey, how's it going?"
"Are you stalking me?" she repeated slowly. This was a literal nightmare.
"You're sitting in an alley waiting for me."
"I thought that was charming, not stalker-ish."
Completely out of patience for his nonsense, she turned on her heel and stomped off. If she just kept ignoring him he would eventually go away, right?
"Where are you going?" He asked, trailing behind her.
"Home." She sped up.
"Can you just wait a minute?"
"Why are you here?" She asked without turning around. "How do you even know where I work?"
"I told you. I like spaghetti."
"That's bullshit," she said. "You were looking for me." The thought hadn't even crossed her mind initially, but after seeing him wait for her it was blatantly obvious.
"Fine," he said. "Today, yes, I was looking for you. But I didn't track you down or anything."
"Then how do you know I work here?"
"As I said, I like spaghetti so me and my friend came here last week," he explained, still rushing to keep up with her quick pace. "I saw you working and I thought it was weird. Because, you know, I figured you'd be doing something a little…better. No offense."
"I'm taking offense to everything you say."
"And after a week I decided to come talk to you."
"Well, you're wasting your breath." She took a sharp turn in a desperate attempt to lose him.
"You don't even want to know what I wanna talk about?"
She stopped abruptly, just long enough to send him a nasty glare and say, "Are you really that dense that I have to explain it?"
"Apparently," he said. "Come on, one quick drink tomorrow night."
She groaned loudly in frustration and pinched the bridge of her nose. "Because, Isaac, you're the fucking devil."
"Well, now that's harsh."
"You screwed both of my brother's fiancées," she spat. "That is quite the track record. You know, most people only screw one person's fiancées in a lifetime, but nope. You're Isaac Hanes, a true over-achiever."
"Kay, listen," he said, swooping in front of her to finally block her path. He put a hand on her shoulder but she immediately swatted it away. "The first chick, yeah, I did that on purpose. I'll admit it. But Chelsea was a total accident, I swear."
"So your dick 'accidentally' slipped into her?"
She scoffed and shoved him out of her way, continuing her march. It would have been smarter to stay silent and ignore him but for some reason, she continued the conversation. "So, you only deliberately slept with one fiancée. Do you expect a medal or something?"
"No, but I think I deserve to give an explanation."
"Fine. Explain why you screwed the first one."
"I kinda meant I would explain what happened with Chelsea…"
She stopped and pivoted to face him. "No, let's hear it. Why did you sleep with Sarah?"
He awkwardly rubbed the back of his neck, trying to string together a proper argument. "I dunno…your brother was kind of a dick. I thought it would be funny."
"Wow…" She said flatly, nodding her head slowly. "That's very compelling."
"Honestly, who the hell gets engaged in high school anyway?" He asked. "It was doomed from the beginning."
"That doesn't make it your responsibility to end it!"
"I know, I know," he said, raising his hands in defense. "My buddies bet me that I couldn't do it, and honestly I didn't think I could either. But…when we went to Jason Hart's birthday party I gave it a whirl. Turns out she was exceptionally easy, I did your brother a favor, honestly."
"You really are a true hero."
"But Chelsea," he continued, "she came on to me. I had no idea she was with your brother. If I knew I probably wouldn't have done it. Not gonna say for sure, because she was a smoke show, but my conscience definitely would have kicked in."
"You don't have a conscience," she said. "Besides, how did you not know they were getting married? The wedding was two months away."
"She wasn't wearing a ring." His smarmy grin finally slipped off his face. As he kicked a rock with his foot, avoiding her eyes, he actually looked a little guilty. "I was at Barlow's grill. You know, on 87th ave? I was just having a drink, minding my own business, and this blonde woman wearing a red dress with her tits hanging out came up to me. I mean, Alice, you could totally tell she was down to fu – "
"Just, continue the story, Isaac."
"Fine. So…we have a few drinks. She says she's single, and I had no reason to doubt her, so we went to my apartment," he explained. "Then the damn woman wouldn't leave! She was there for days. I kept telling her all the clichés like I had to get up early and shit. But she wouldn't leave."
Alice nodded. That week was clear in her mind. Poor Simon was frantically searching for his missing fiancée, calling everyone they knew trying to find her. It wasn't until the following week that she showed up. "So, then what happened?" she asked.
"After a few days she finally admitted that she was engaged," he visibly cringed when he said it. "And I mean, I knew this chick was crazy. Total stage five clinger. But the sex was fucking fantastic."
"But…a few days later the damn woman shows up to my apartment telling me she left her fiancée for me and that she loved me and all that shit. I was already ready to kick her out at that point, and then…" He inhaled deeply and gazed up at the stars. It seemed to literally pain him to tell the story. "Then she mentioned Simon's name and everything clicked. I realized I actually fucked two of his fiancées. Like you said, one is more than enough. Sooo, I kicked her out. Called her a crazy bitch and proceeded to deadbolt my door so your brother wouldn't murder me."
It was impossible not to giggle a little at the story. As terrible as it was, and as awful as she felt for Simon, there was something comedic about Isaac trying to get rid of Crazy Chelsea. She never did like her. Once she got over the humor of the situation she reverted to her cold self. "So, what? Are you looking for forgiveness? Do you expect me to convince Simon to tell you there's no hard feelings?"
"What? No. I don't care about what that idiot thinks of me," he said. "I told you, I want to talk to you. Let's go out for drinks. I'll make it worth your while."
She rolled her eyes and turned her back on him, continuing to speed away. Only Isaac would think that he could tell a story about having an affair with her brother's fiancée, proceed to insult her brother, then ask her out on a date. "No."
"Because you're disgusting," she shouted, now being several meters ahead of him. "Are you that arrogant that you honestly think you can sleep with my brother's fiancees and his sister?"
"If you honestly think I'm trying to sleep with you," he drawled, "you're even more arrogant than me."
She paused. Now she was really confused. "You're not?"
"Then what do you want?"
"I'll tell you tomorrow when we go for drinks."
"Why can't you tell me here?"
He shrugged. "Because I don't want to."
She groaned and rubbed her forehead, nursing the pounding headache that was emerging. All she wanted was a normal day at work and to have a nice bubble bath. Nothing prepared her for this. What could possibly be so important that he would put in this much effort tracking her down? As far as she knew, Isaac didn't put in this much effort for any woman, even if sex was on the line. But god, she hated every speck of him.
As if he read her mind, he said, "Listen, if you don't want to, I get it. You won't hear from me again. But trust me, you won't regret it."
The city was unusually quiet that night. Any other night sirens were typically blaring, or at least a few drunken teens stumbling down the sidewalk. But that night there was an ominous emptiness in the streets. Only Isaac and Alice were in sight, standing parallel to each other, squaring each other up. Her nails dug into her palms as she narrowed her eyes, trying to gauge his intentions. He lazily slipped his hands into his pocket, patiently waiting for her response with an unreadable nonchalant expression.
The human embodiment of evil stood a mere meter away with what could only be an invitation to hell, and yet, she found It difficult to refuse. Her curious mind was getting the best of her. But there was no way she could accept the invitation. She couldn't do that to Simon. Hell, she couldn't do it to her own self-respect. Then again, wouldn't it be disrespectful to herself if she deprived herself of knowing what he wanted? And even more important, wouldn't it be disrespectful to herself to let Simon dictate even more of her life after he seemed so unappreciative of her help? Yeah…it would be self-respectful do it, right?
Wow, Alice, that's quite the justification, she thought as she rubbed her temples, don't do it. Run away. Go home.
"Fuck," she grumbled. "Fine. Whatever."
Relief washed over him, making her even more curious. "Are you serious?"
"I guess so."
"Great," he said smiling. "You won't regret it."
"So, can I get your number so I can send you the address?"
"I'm not giving you my number."
"What? Why not?"
"Because you've already practically stalked me tonight," she said. "The last thing I want is you calling me all the time."
"Listen, I know you think I'm a huge asshole and all," he said, rolling his eyes, "but you're the one who's being kind of a prick right now."
She scoffed and swatted his shoulder. "You can't call a girl a prick!"
He cocked his brow and asked, "How come?"
"Because…I don't know," she said, "because it's not very feminine."
"Well, now that's a little sexist, don't you think?"
She ignored him and turned back on her heel, walking away.
"Fine," he called out. Grabbing a pen and paper from his pocket he scribbled down and address. "Meet me here at 8 o'clock."
They stood in an awkward silence just staring at each other. After spending nearly an hour shouting at each other it seemed neither of them knew how to leave the conversation. Finally, he cleared his throat and said, "Hey, I would offer you a ride home but I take it you don't want me to know where you live."
"You're very observant."
"Alright, well, take care then," he said, giving a small wave as he sauntered off. "Don't forget – 8 o'clock."
As she watched him disappear around the corner, her head began spinning. What had she just agreed to? Oh god, her brother was going to murder her if he found out. She wished she had gotten his number simply so she could promptly cancel. Instead, she pulled out her obsolete LG flip phone and texted her best friend Emily.
HEY. Where are you?
Alice leaned against the side of the building and tried to patiently wait for a response. After a few minutes without a new text she decided to spam her friend.
Much to Alice's relief, her phone vibrated with a notification.
I'm breaking a sweat at the Jim.
You mean at the 'Gym'?
;) Nope. I mean at Jim's. Hottie I met at the gym lol.
Alice giggled. It was just like Emily to manage to pick up some hot guy at the gym, even if she was sweaty. She contemplated leaving her crisis alone and letting Emily have her fun, but when she remembered Isaac's blue eyes piercing through her she knew she wouldn't be able to sleep.
Can you meet up in a bit? Something really weird happened tonight.
What happened? Jim wants to make me vegan tacos. Idk if I can turn that down.
I'm going out for drinks with Isaac Hanes tomorrow.
OMG! I'll be over in an hour.
A/N: weeooo. What does Isaac want? Whoo knows!
anyways, don't forget to review and follow the story guys! :) I'm a typical millennial who thrives off validation (and criticism haha?). Let me know what you think! :)
Have an amazing day! For all you students out there drowning in school, don't forget to breathe during this hellish time and try not to die from too much caffeine! I say this as I'm drinking my extra large coffee with espresso after drinking two red bulls. OOPS. It's been a long day.